(1) THE STORY OF JESUS
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John rearranged by Subject & in Date order
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Parts 8-12 bring together all the relevant verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - in that order.
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Part 8 - APPEARANCE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
(Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:2-8; Luke 3:1-20; John 1:6-28)
Matthew 3:1-12 - In due course John the Baptist arrived, preaching in the Judean desert: "You must change your hearts - for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived!"
This was the man whom the prophet Isaiah spoke about in the words: 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight'.
John wore clothes of camel-hair with a leather belt round his waist, and lived on locusts and wild honey. The people of Jerusalem and of all Judea and the Jordan district flocked to him, and were baptised by him in the river Jordan, publicly confessing their sins.
But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism he said: "Who warned you, you serpent's brood, to escape from the wrath to come? Go and do something to show that your hearts are really changed. Don't suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We are Abraham's children', for I tell you that God could produce children of Abraham out of these stones!
"The axe already lies at the root of the tree, and the tree that fails to produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. It is true that I baptise you with water as a sign of your repentance, but the one who follows me is far stronger than I am - indeed I am not fit to carry his shoes. He will baptise you with the fire of the Holy Spirit. He comes all ready to separate the wheat from the chaff and very thoroughly will he clear his threshing-floor - the wheat he will collect into the granary and the chaff he will burn with a fire that can never be put out."
Mark 1:2-8 - ("The Gospel of Jesus Christ" .....) begins with the fulfilment of this prophecy of Isaiah - 'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you'. 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight'.
For John came and began to baptise men in the desert, proclaiming baptism as the mark of a complete change of heart and of the forgiveness of sins. All the people of the Judean countryside and everyone in Jerusalem went out to him in the desert and received his baptism in the river Jordan, publicly confessing their sins.
John himself was dressed in camel-hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he lived on locusts and wild honey. The burden of his preaching was, "There is someone coming after me who is stronger than I - indeed I am not good enough to kneel down and undo his shoes. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit."
Luke 3:1-20 - In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (a year when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea Herod tetrarch of Galilee, Philip, his brother, tetrarch of the territory of Iturea and Trachonitis and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene while Annas and Caiaphas were the High Priests) the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, while he was in the desert. He went into the whole country round about the Jordan proclaiming baptism as a mark of a complete change of heart and of the forgiveness of sins, as the book of the prophet Isaiah says - 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God'.
So John used to say to the crowds who came out to be baptised by him, "Who warned you, you serpent's brood, to escape from the wrath to come? See that you do something to show that your hearts are really changed! Don't start thinking that you can say to yourselves, 'We are Abraham's children', for I tell you that God could produce children of Abraham out of these stones! The axe already lies at the root of the tree, and the tree that fails to produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
Then the crowds would ask him, "Then what shall we do?"
And his answer was, "The man who has two shirts must share with the man who has none, and the man who has food must do the same."
Some of the tax-collectors also came to him to be baptised and they asked him, "Master, what are we to do?"
"You must not demand more than you are entitled to," he replied.
And the soldiers asked him, "And what are we to do?"
"Don't bully people, don't bring false charges, and be content with your pay," he replied.
The people were in a great state of expectation and were inwardly discussing whether John could possibly be Christ. But John answered them all in these words, "It is true that I baptise you with water, but the one who follows me is stronger than I am - indeed I am not fit to undo his shoe-laces - he will baptise you with the fire of the Holy Spirit. He will come all ready to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to clear the rubbish from his threshing-floor. The wheat he will gather into his barn and the chaff he will burn with a fire that cannot be put out."
These and many other things John said to the people as he exhorted them and announced the good news. But the tetrarch Herod, who had been condemned by John in the affair of Herodias, his brother's wife, as well as for the other evil things that he had done, crowned his misdeeds by putting John in prison.
John 1:6-28 - A man called John was sent by God as a witness to the light, so that any man who heard his testimony might believe in the light. This man was not himself the light: he was sent simply as a personal witness to that light.
That was the true light which shines upon every man as he comes into the world. He came into the world - the world he had created - and the world failed to recognise him. He came into his own creation, and his own people would not accept him. Yet wherever men did accept him he gave them the power to become sons of God. These were the men who truly believed in him, and their birth depended not on the course of nature nor on any impulse or plan of man, but on God.
So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw his splendour (the splendour as of a father's only son), full of grace and truth. And it was about him that John stood up and testified, exclaiming: "Here is the one I was speaking about when I said that although he would come after me he would always be in front of me; for he existed before I was born!" Indeed, every one of us has shared in his riches - there is a grace in our lives because of his grace. For while the Law was given by Moses, love and truth came through Jesus Christ. It is true that no one has ever seen God at any time. Yet the divine and only Son, who lives in the closest intimacy with the Father, has made him known.
This then is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He (John the Baptist) admitted with complete candour, "I am not Christ."
So they asked him, "Who are you then? Are you Elijah?"
"No, I am not," he replied.
"Are you the Prophet?"
"No," he replied.
"Well, then," they asked again, "who are you? We want to give an answer to the people who sent us. What would you call yourself?"
"I am 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord' as Isaiah the prophet said."
Now some of the Pharisees had been sent to John, and they questioned him, "What is the reason, then, for your baptising people if you are not Christ and not Elijah and not the Prophet?"
To which John returned, "I do baptise - with water. But somewhere among you stands a man you do not know. He comes after me, it is true, but I am not fit to undo his shoes!" (All this happened in the Bethany on the far side of the Jordan where the baptisms of John took place.)
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Part 9 - BAPTISM OF JESUS
(Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23a; John 1:29-34)
Matthew 3:13-17 - Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. But John tried to prevent him. "I need you to baptise me", he said. "Surely you do not come to me?" But Jesus replied, "It is right for us to meet all the Law's demands - let it be so now."
Then John agreed to his baptism. Jesus came straight out of the water afterwards, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting upon him. And a voice came out of Heaven saying, "This is my dearly-loved son, in whom I am well pleased."
Mark 1:9-11 - It was in those days (during the ministry of John the Baptist) that Jesus arrived from the Galilean village of Nazareth and was baptised by John in the Jordan. All at once, as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open, and the Spirit coming down upon him like a dove. A voice came out of Heaven, saying, "You are my dearly-beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!"
Luke 3:21-23a - When all the people had been baptised (by John the Baptist), and Jesus was praying after his own baptism, Heaven opened and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in the bodily form of a dove. Then there came a voice from Heaven, saying, "You are my dearly-loved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Jesus himself was about thirty years old at this time when he began his work.
John 1:29-34 - On the following day (after John the Baptist had told the Pharisees that one greater than him was among them), John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, "Look, there is the lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world! This is the man I meant when I said, 'A man comes after me who is always in front of me, for he existed before I was born!' It is true I have not known him, yet it was to make him known to the people of Israel that I came and baptised people with water."
Then John gave this testimony, "I have seen the Spirit come down like a dove from Heaven and rest upon him. Indeed, it is true that I did not recognise him by myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water told me this: 'The one on whom you will see the Spirit coming down and resting is the man who baptises with the Holy Spirit!' Now I have seen this happen and I declare publicly before you all that he is the Son of God.!"
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Part 10 - JESUS' TEMPTATION BY THE DEVIL
(Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13)
Matthew 4:1-11 - Then (after his baptism) Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. After a fast of forty days and nights he was very hungry.
"If you really are the Son of God," said the tempter, coming to him, "tell these stones to turn into loaves."
Jesus answered, "The scripture says 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'."
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the highest ledge of the Temple. "If you really are the Son of God," he said, "Throw yourself down. For the scripture says - 'He shall give his angels charge concerning you,' and 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone'."
"Yes," retorted Jesus, "and the scripture also says 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'."
Once again the devil took him to a very high mountain, and from there showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their magnificence. "Everything there I will give you," he said to him, "if you will fall down and worship me."
"Away with you, Satan!" replied Jesus, "the scripture says, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve'."
Then the devil let him alone, and the angels came to him and took care of him.
Mark 1:12-13 - Then (after his baptism) the Spirit sent him out at once into the desert, and there he remained for forty days while Satan tempted him. During this time no one was with him but wild animals, and only the angels were there to care for him.
Luke 4:1-13 - Jesus returned from the Jordan (after his baptism) full of the Holy Spirit and he was led by the Spirit to spend forty days in the desert, where he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during that time and afterwards he felt very hungry.
"If you really are the Son of God," the devil said to him, "tell this stone to turn into a loaf."
Jesus answered, "The scripture says, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God'."
Then the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of mankind in a sudden vision, and said to him, "I will give you all this power and magnificence, for it belongs to me and I can give it to anyone I please. It shall all be yours if you will fall down and worship me."
To this Jesus replied, "It is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only you shall serve'."
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem and set him on the highest ledge of the Temple.
"If you really are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here, for the scripture says, 'He shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you', and 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone'."
To which Jesus replied, "It is also said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'."
And when he had exhausted every kind of temptation, the devil withdrew until his next opportunity.
- Throughout the rest of the Gospels, Jesus does not hesitate to identify the devil, or Satan, and his demons as real beings continually trying to thwart the goodness and love of God. They totally oppose Jesus' own teaching and healing.
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Jesus now starts what is generally accepted to be a three year ministry between c AD27 and the Spring of c AD30 ....
Part 11 - HOW JESUS STARTS HIS MINISTRY ACCORDING TO EACH GOSPEL
(John 1:35-36; Matthew 4:12-17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:14-15)
Year One - c AD27-28
John 1:35-36 - On the following day (after John the Baptist had seen the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus) John was again standing with two of his disciples. He looked straight at Jesus as he walked along, and said, "There is the lamb of God!"
Year Two - c AD28-29
Matthew 4:12-17 - Now when Jesus heard that John (the Baptist) had been arrested (by Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee and Perea) he went back to Galilee. He left Nazareth and came to live in Capernaum, a lake-side town in the Zebulun-Naphtali territory. In this way Isaiah's prophecy came true: 'The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: the people who sat in darkness saw a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned'.
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "You must change your hearts - for the kingdom of Heaven has arrived."
Mark 1:14-15 - It was after John (the Baptist's) arrest that Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, saying, "The time has come at last - the kingdom of God has arrived. You must change your hearts and minds and believe the good news."
Luke 4:14-15 - And now (after his temptation in the desert) Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread through all the surrounding district. He taught in their synagogues, to everyone's admiration.
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Sections 1-5 of Part 12 bring together all the relevant verses from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - in that order.
Year One - c AD27-28
12.1 FIRST CALLING OF ANDREW AND ONE OTHER DISCIPLE (JOHN?), SIMON PETER, PHILIP AND NATHANAEL
John 1:37-51 - (John the Baptist is standing with two of his disciples. Seeing Jesus, he says "There is the lamb of God!" ....) The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned round and when he saw them (Andrew and possibly John, son of Zebedee) following him, spoke to them. "What do you want?" he said.
"Master, where are you staying?" they replied.
"Come and see," returned Jesus.
So they went and saw where he was staying and remained with him the rest of that day. (It was then about four o'clock in the afternoon.) One of the two men who had heard what John said and had followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He went straight off and found his own brother, Simon, and told him, "We have found the Messiah!" (meaning, of course, Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked steadily at him and said, "You are Simon, the son of John. From now on your name is Cephas" - (that is, Peter, meaning "a rock").
The following day Jesus decided to go into Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me!" Philip was a man from Bethsaida, the town that Andrew and Peter came from. Now Philip found Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew, from the town of Cana) and told him, "We have discovered the man whom Moses wrote about in the Law and about whom the Prophets wrote too. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph and comes from Nazareth."
"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" retorted Nathanael.
"You come and see," replied Philip.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him and remarked, "Now here is a true man of Israel; there is no deceit in him!"
"How can you know me?" returned Nathanael.
"When you were underneath that fig-tree," replied Jesus, "before Philip called you, I saw you."
At which Nathanael exclaimed, "Master, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel!"
"Do you believe in me," replied Jesus, "because I said I had seen you underneath that fig-tree? You are going to see something greater than that! Believe me," he added, "I tell you all that you will see Heaven wide open and God's angels ascending and descending around the Son of Man!"
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Year Two - c AD28-29
After the initial calls in John's Gospel, only now does Jesus appear to bring his disciples into full-time service:
12.2 THE CALLING OF SIMON PETER, ANDREW, JAMES AND JOHN
(Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11)
Matthew 4:18-22 - While he (Jesus, after he had begun to preach) was walking by the lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (Peter) and Andrew, casting their large net into the water. They were fishermen, so Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will teach you to catch men!"
At once they left their nets and followed him.
Then he went further on and saw two more men, also brothers, James and John. They were aboard the boat with their father Zebedee repairing their nets, and he called them. At once they left the boat, and their father, and followed him.
Mark 1:16-20 - As he walked along the shore of the Lake of Galilee, he saw two fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, casting their nets into the water. "Come and follow me, and I will teach you to catch men!" he cried.
At once they dropped their nets, and followed him.
Then he went a little further along the shore and saw James the son of Zebedee, aboard a boat with his brother John, overhauling their nets. At once he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and went off after him.
Luke 5:1-11 - One day the people were crowding closely round Jesus to hear God's message, as he stood on the shore of Lake Gennesaret (the Sea of Galilee). Jesus noticed two boats drawn up on the beach, for the fishermen had left them there while they were cleaning their nets. He went aboard one of the boats, which belonged to Simon, and asked him to push out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and continued his teaching of the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Push out now into deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
Simon replied, "Master! We've worked all night and never caught a thing, but if you say so, I'll let the nets down."
And when they had done this, they caught an enormous shoal of fish - so big that the nets began to tear. So they signalled to their friends in the other boats to come and help them. They came and filled both the boats to sinking point. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell on his knees before Jesus and said, "Keep away from me, Lord, for I'm only a sinful man!"
For he and his companions (including Zebedee's sons, James and John, Simon's partners) were staggered at the haul of fish that they had made.
Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid, Simon. From now on your catch will be men."
So they brought the boats ashore, left everything and followed him.
During his first preaching tour of Galilee, Jesus returns to Capernaum where he calls Matthew:
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12.3 CALLING OF MATTHEW THE TAX COLLECTOR
(Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:13-17; Luke 5:27-32)
Matthew 9:9-13 - Jesus left there (Capernaum) and as he passed on he saw a man called Matthew sitting at his desk in the tax-collector's office.
"Follow me!" he said to him - and the man got to his feet and followed him.
Later, as Jesus was in the house sitting at the dinner-table, a good many tax-collectors and other disreputable people came on the scene and joined him and his disciples. The Pharisees noticed this and said to the disciples, "Why does your master have his meals with tax-collectors and sinners?" But Jesus heard this and replied, "It is not the fit and flourishing who need the doctor, but those who are ill! Suppose you go away and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice'. In any case I did not come to invite the 'righteous' but the 'sinners'."
Mark 2:13-17 - Then Jesus went out (from Capernaum) again by the lake-side (of the Sea of Galilee) and the whole crowd came to him, and he continued to teach them.
As Jesus went on his way, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at his desk in the tax office ....
Levi - Otherwise Matthew (Hebrew, Mattathias) according to most commentators. He was possibly a brother of the apostle James, also son of an Alphaeus -
.... and he said to him, "Follow me!"
Levi got up and followed him. Later, when Jesus was sitting at dinner in Levi's house, a large number of tax-collectors and disreputable folk came in and joined him and his disciples. For there were many such people among his followers. When the scribes and Pharisees saw him eating in the company of tax-collectors and outsiders, they remarked to his disciples, "Why does he eat with tax-collectors and sinners?"
When Jesus heard this, he said to them, "It is not the fit and flourishing who need the doctor, but those who are ill. I did not come to invite the 'righteous', but the 'sinners'."
Luke 5:27-32 - Later on (after healing the paralysed man in Capernaum), Jesus went out and looked straight at a tax-collector called Levi, as he sat at his office desk.
"Follow me," he said to him.
And he got to his feet at once, left everything behind and followed him.
The Levi gave a big reception for Jesus in his own house, and there was a great crowd of tax-collectors and others at table with them. The Pharisees and their companions the scribes kept muttering indignantly about this to Jesus' disciples, saying, "Why do you have your meals with tax-collectors and sinners?"
Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to invite the 'righteous' but the 'sinners' - to change their ways.
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12.4 CHOOSING THE TWELVE APOSTLES
(Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16)
Matthew 10:1-4 - Jesus (feeling deep pity for the crowds of people who followed him, remarks that "the harvest is great enough ... but the reapers are few ...") called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to expel evil spirits and heal all kinds of disease and infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles were: First,
1. Simon, called Peter, with his brother 2. Andrew; 3. James, and his brother 4. John, sons of Zebedee; 5. Philip and 6. Bartholomew (or Nathanael), 7. Thomas, and 8. Matthew (or Levi) the tax-collector, 9. James, the son of Alphaeus (or James the Less or Little), and 10. Thaddaeus (or Judas, son of James; also known as Lebbaeus insome ancient manuscripts), 11. Simon the Patriot (or Zealot), and 12. Judas Iscariot, who later turned traitor.
Mark 3:13-19 - Later (sometime after Jesus healed the man with the shrivelled hand, and withdrawn to continue his ministry around the Sea of Galilee) he went up on to the hill-side and summoned the men whom he wanted, and they went up to him. He appointed a band of twelve to be his companions, whom he could send out to preach, with power to drive out evil spirits. These were the twelve he appointed (the numbers represent the order used by Matthew):
1. Peter (which was the new name he gave Simon), 3. James the son of Zebedee, and 4. John his brother (He gave them the name of Boanerges, which meansthe "Thunderers".) 2. Andrew (the brother of Peter), 5. Philip, 6. Bartholomew (or Nathanael), 8. Matthew (or Levi), 7. Thomas, 9. James the son of Alphaeus, 10. Thaddaeus (or Judas, son of James), 11. Simon the Patriot, and 12. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Luke 6:12-16 - It was in those days (after healing the man with the shrivelled hand) that he went up the hill-side to pray, and spent the whole night in prayer to God. When daylight came, he summoned his disciples to him and out of them he chose twelve whom he called apostles. They were (again using the numbers from Matthew's list) .......
1. Simon (whom he called Peter), 2. Andrew, his brother, 3. James, 4. John (the brother of James), 5. Philip, 6. Bartholomew (or Nathanael), 8. Matthew (or Levi), 7. Thomas, 9. James, the son of Alphaeus, 11. Simon, called the patriot, 10. Judas (or Thaddaeus), the son of James and 12. Judas Iscariot, who later betrayed him.
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12.5 SOME OF HIS WOMEN DISCIPLES
Luke 8:1-3 - Not long after this incident (the first time Jesus is anointed with perfume, by a "bad woman of the town" in the house of a Pharisee), Jesus went through every town and village (in Galilee) preaching and telling the people the good news of the kingdom of God. He was accompanied by the twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and illnesses - Mary, known as "the woman from Magdala" (who had once been possessed by seven evil spirits) Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's agent Susanna, and many others who used to look after his comfort from their own resources.
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J.B.Phillips, "The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, published by HarperCollins, is presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate